Who isn’t feeling a little stressed this holiday season? Between the economy woes, job instability, money concerns, family drama, and present shopping it’s no wonder people are feeling a little pinched and overwhelmed. This stress has a huge impact on your body (as if you didn’t already know that) and as a result can seriously impact all things heart related.
Heart Rate: stress and anxiety naturally increases your heart rate. As our fight/flight response kicks in, our heart begins pumping blood through our system quicker in order to push more oxygen around. Many begin to feel this increased thumping in our chests which further stresses us out.
Heart Palpitations: stress can affect the electrical current that creates the normal rate and rhythm with which your heart beats. This leads to heart palpitations, or that fluttering feeling you sometimes feel if your heart skips a beat or double beats.
Heart Disease: Research is still needed, however many people know that emotional stress can definitely take its toll on the heart. The repetitive adrenaline response, fight/flight, anger (either internalized or externalized) leads to chronically stressed-out individuals which can lead to high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, and excessive wear on the heart and arteries.
Heart Attacks: Eventually, if you have enough high blood pressure, high heart rate, high cholesterol and possibly high stress, you are at a high risk for a heart attack.
Heartburn: Not technically heart related however it does have the word ‘heart’ in it. According to the National Heartburn Alliance, 58% of frequent heartburn sufferers have a ‘hectic lifestyle’ and 52% report work stress being a major problem. Stress switches you from the ‘rest and digest’ part of your nervous system to the ‘fight/flight’ which means you don’t digest your foods as well as you could leading to heartburn. Those under stress are more prone to eating on the run and making unhealthy choices that increase heartburn risk.
So what can you do? First, focus on you everyday. Use your ‘no’ button and set your boundaries realistically.